Civic Museums of Reggio Emilia, Italy

The system of collections, historical sites and exhibition rooms proposed by the Civic Museums of Reggio Emilia has accompanied the formation of the cultural identity of the Reggiani. In the museums, the memories of nature, archeology, art and history of the entire provincial territory are documented and valued, in an overview that embraces the five continents. Collections ranging from the Palaeolithic to the present days presented in five museum locations, two monumental locations and three exhibition venues. A wealth of works and buildings that has grown over many decades, continuously updating the proposals, and whose first nucleus began just over 200 years ago.

The oldest foundation of the collections, in fact, was created in 1799 with the acquisition, by the city of Reggio Emilia, of the domestic collection of the illustrious scientist Lazzaro Spallanzani who, in his home in Scandiano, had accumulated zoological, paleontological, mineralogical finds. , lithological and botanical, as well as furnishing objects, such as paintings, tables and knick-knacks. The collection, preserved intact in its eighteenth-century consistency, since 1830 is located in the halls of Palazzo dei Musei.

In 1862, thanks to the work of the priest Gaetano Chierici, one of the fathers of modern Paletnology, the Gabinetto di Storia Patria was established, which in 1870 became the Museum of Homeland History. Precious evidence of science and museology of the late nineteenth century, the materials of prehistory and local protohistory are compared with objects of the same period, but of different geographical origin, especially Italian. The collection was later renamed Museo Gaetano Chierici di Paletnologia, based in the Palazzo dei Musei.

The exhibitions at the Palazzo dei Musei are then extended to the Galleria dei Marmi with stone findings, Roman epigraphs and sculptures from the Middle Ages to the XVIII; to the Museum Atrium with Roman mosaics and floor decorations from the 12th and 13th centuries. And again with Sale that complete the naturalistic collections of zoology and botany; then collections of ethnography, numismatics, ceramics, jewelery and minor arts.

In 1902 the Antonio Fontanesi Gallery was set up, which was re-organized, enlarged and enriched several times, and documented the artistic culture in Reggio from the 14th to the 20th century.

The historical site of the Civic Museums is now part of a network that also includes other places, and consists of five museums that include, in addition to the Palazzo dei Musei, the Parmeggiani Gallery, the Tricolore Museum, the History of Psychiatry Museum and the Temple Museum of the Blessed Virgin of the Ghiara. The network also includes two monumental sites (the Synagogue and the Mauritian), three exhibition venues (Spazio Gerra, Chiostri di San Domenico, Officina delle Arti) and the Biblioteca delle Arti.

The Civic Museums, pursuing over time the goal of preserving the testimonies of the city of Reggio Emilia and the provincial territory of Reggio Emilia, have simultaneously promoted scientific research, knowledge and public enjoyment through educational and educational activities. The commitment and role of dynamic promoters of cultural and educational services have been assumed – in the disciplinary areas that characterize the heritage – in collaboration with other local, public and private entities: Superintendencies, Universities, Local Authorities, Research Institutes, Associations cultural.

Parmeggiani Gallery
The Parmeggiani Gallery is an interesting collectible episode that saw the collection in Reggio Emilia in 1925, inside a building erected specifically by Luigi Parmeggiani, three nineteenth-century collections: paintings, furniture and fabrics that belong to the collection of the painter, collector and antiquarian Ignacio Leon y Escosura, weapons and goldsmiths come from the Parisian workshop Marcy, while a room is dedicated to the pictorial production of Cesare Detti.

Museo del Tricolore
The Museo del Tricolore in Reggio Emilia has a long history.

The collection is started by Gaetano Chierici and then greatly enriched by Naborre Campanini. To launch the idea of the Museum is the historian Ugo Bellocchi who was responsible in 1966 for the reconstruction on a documentary basis of the model of the first Tricolore; Between 1985 and 1987 the museum found a first place in some rooms adjacent to the historic Tricolore Room in a setting funded by the Reggio Emilia Host Lions Club.

The Bicentennial celebrations of 1997 create the conditions for a relaunch and a new exhibition, inaugurated on 7 January 2004 by the President of the Republic, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi. The museum tour, curated by Maurizio Festanti, consists at the beginning of only one section dedicated to the period 1796 – 1814, the crucial years of the political events that led to the birth of the Italian flag in Reggio Emilia. A second section, inaugurated in 2006, continues the story of the history of the flag, from the revolts of 1820 – 21 to the definitive conquest of independence and unity that recognize the symbol of the new nation in the tricolor banner.

Museum of the Sanctuary of the Beata Vergine della Ghiara
In 1982, by the will of the Temple and Civic Museums, the Museum and Treasury of the Basilica della Ghiara was born. Set up in some rooms on the ground floor of the building that separates the two cloisters of the Servite convent the Museum, it welcomes liturgical objects and donations that over the centuries have come to the temple as a sign of devotion to the miraculous image of the Madonna. gave rise to the Treasury of the Basilica.

The museum is made up of three exhibition halls and a didactic room hosting the so-called “sinopia” of the fresco of the Madonna della Ghiara, painted by Giovanni Bianchi called il Bertone in 1573 on a design by Lelio Orsi. Among the objects of particular importance, in the first room there are the so-called “ducal candlesticks”, offered by the duke of Modena Francesco I d’Este: destined to furnish the altar of the Madonna on feast days, they were made in Rome by the goldsmiths Gianfrancesco Frangi and Marco Marchi between 1631 and 1634. In the second room are kept vases and other liturgical furnishings. In the third room there is the “crown of 1674”, a splendid work of jewelery donated by the Community of Reggio to the Madonna for having preserved the city from the plague.

The exhibition path is completed by the “Treasure Room”, which houses reliquaries, ex-votos, sacred vessels and other furnishings.

Museum of History of Psychiatry
The Museum’s collection has an ancient history: it was established by the director Carlo Livi in 1875, to show the progress, the discoveries and the applications that formed a title of pride for psychiatric science and its institution and was enlarged by successive directors, who they kept some of the objects of care no longer in use.

After the exhibition Il rim del contagio (1980), at the Lombroso pavilion, the objects were kept at the Carlo Livi scientific library, before being exhibited here.

The Civic Museums of Reggio have been housed in the Palazzo dei Musei since 1830. They contain collections and Collections referable to Archeology (Roman mosaics, Museo Chierici, Portico dei Marmi-Roman section, Roman Museum, Museum of Prehistory and Protohistory), Ethnography, History of Art (Galleria Fontanesi, Galleria dei Marmi-Medieval section, Mosaics medieval), Natural History (Spallanzani Collection, Zoological, anatomical, botanical, geo-mineralogical and paleontological collections), History of the city (Museum of Industrial Art, showcases of the Reggio Scientists).

“Lazzaro Spallanzani” Collection
In 1799, at the death of Lazzaro Spallanzani, the Municipality of Reggio Emilia acquired the “small collection of natural productions” set up by the scientist in the rooms of his home in Scandiano. It includes zoological finds, with particular reference to marine, paleontological, mineralogical, lithological and botanical life forms, as well as furnishing objects, such as paintings, tables and knick-knacks, testifying, in its heterogeneity, the variety of interests of the scientist. The collection, preserved intact in its eighteenth-century consistency, has since 1830 been placed in the halls of the Palazzo dei Musei. The current layout is linked to the rearrangement made in 1883 by Alfredo Jona, which brings together in a first room the personal and furniture items, together with the plant finds, and has the remaining part,

“Gaetano Chierici” Museum of Paletnology
Direct expression of the cultural work of the founder, the priest Gaetano Chierici, is a precious testimony of the science and museology of the late nineteenth century. In 1862, Chierici ordered the Patria Cabinet of Antiquities, expanded in 1870 as a Museum of Homeland History, whose core is the Collection of Paletnology. Preserved in the furnishings and with the original arrangement, it represents the most direct expression of the work of a paletnologist in the age when prehistoric research is affirmed also in Italy. The exhibition is divided into three series. The first brings together the archaeological materials of the province of Reggio Emilia. The two series are still subordinated to it with extra-provincial materials, which respectively illustrate the archeology of other Italian regions, and with those relevant to archaeological and ethnological cultures of other European countries and other continents. A fourth section exhibits “sepulchres” transported intact into the Museum. In the local series the materials, fully shown, are ordered in chronological sequences and subdivided by origin, by subject, by technology, by type. In this positivistic work method, the contributions of Geology, Natural Sciences and Anthropology are enhanced. On the death of its founder (1886) the Collection was renamed “Gaetano Chierici” Museum of Paletnology. by type. In this positivistic work method, the contributions of Geology, Natural Sciences and Anthropology are enhanced. On the death of its founder (1886) the Collection was renamed “Gaetano Chierici” Museum of Paletnology. by type. In this positivistic work method, the contributions of Geology, Natural Sciences and Anthropology are enhanced. On the death of its founder (1886) the Collection was renamed “Gaetano Chierici” Museum of Paletnology.

The zoological collections of the Civic Museums, rearranged in the nineteenth-century exhibition facility of the Sala Antonio Vallisneri, include three collections. A first nucleus consists of a selection of nineteenth-century zoological collections and of the early twentieth century, arranged in a systematic way in the perimeter windows of the hall. Of particular curiosity is the singular taxidermic preparation of a young sperm whale. A second nucleus is given by the collection of African fauna of the baron Raimondo Franchetti, made up of numerous artiodactyla protomes and specimens prepared in dramatized positions to reconstruct scenes of predation, to which is added a large specimen of Nile Crocodile In the windows surrounding the pillars at the center of the room is set up and a section dedicated to the fauna of the Reggio area. The different natural environments of the province are taken into consideration from the Apennine ridge towards the Po, from the mountain and hill woods, to the countryside and the plains, to the wetlands, without neglecting the city. Besides the sedentary fauna, migratory species are contemplated, those recently introduced and those once present and currently disappeared from the territory.

Atrium of the mosaics
The vestibule and atrium of the Civic Museums are home to a precious collection of mosaic fragments of Roman and medieval origin, which came after excavations and discoveries made in private homes and city architecture. Discentium commodo, advenarum spectaculo (to serve studies, for the pleasure of visitors) is the inscription painted on the entrance door, which clarifies the purpose of the Museum, a true temple of homeland memories. Between 1873 and 1878 Gaetano Chierici set up the vestibule and then the atrium. His exhibition project would have been completed by Naborre Campanini between 1910 and 1920. The southern wall of the vestibule houses samples of colored marbles and portions of mosaic floors with black and white geometric backgrounds, from dwelling houses in the center of the Roman Reggio .

The section dedicated to Earth Sciences aims to provide an overview of the lithological, mineralogical and paleontological characteristics of the Reggio area. The different rock formations of the Reggio area with their mineralogical content and, where present, paleontological, from the Triassic of Gessi della Valle del Secchia and from the Jurassic of the ophiolite masses, to the Quaternary of continental deposits are illustrated in chronological order; of the pedeappennino. Particularly documented the rich fossiliferous content of the Pliocene Clays and the remains of large terrestrial mammals (southern elephant, Etruscan rhinoceros) unearthed in the ’70s in the Crostolo and Modolena streams, a short distance from the city of Reggio, while for what concerns the mineralogy some peculiar species of the territory of Reggio are highlighted. Among the most important paleontological findings, the skull of Mosasauro found in San Valentino di Castellarano, of which a cast is preserved, the ‘fossil of Toano’, the ‘Balena Valentina’ and the villafranchiane faunas of the Crostolo and Modolena torrents.

Portico dei Marmi and Cloister
The southern wing of the cloister houses, in direct connection with the Collection of Paletnology, the second section of the Museum of Homeland History by don Gaetano Chierici. Founded in 1869 to gather the Roman materials from the subsoil of Brescello and the Roman and medieval ones from the capital, previously collected under the portico of the Town Hall (1775), it was officially opened to the public in 1875, arranging the adjacent cloister in the garden.

In the naturalistic collections of the Museums there are twelve herbaria, which together provide a brief summary of the studies and botanical classifications from the mid-17th century to the end of the 20th century. Among these, the oldest is the “Antico Erborario del Santo Spirito in Reggio”, a bound book that probably dates back to the mid-seventeenth century. Also of the seventeenth century the “Herborarium Zanonium”, divided into several fascicles, including two dated 1673 and 1674, attributable to the work of the botanist Jacopo Zannoni (1615-1682). Among the eighteenth and nineteenth century herbariums, which also include the collection preserved in the Spallanzani Collection, stands out that of the agronomist Filippo Re (1763-1817), which collects in 158 cases of over 8000 plant species, both local and exotic, ordered according to the systematic linneana. It is joined by that of the collaborator Giovanni Fabriani. Of particular interest, at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the herbariums of Antonio Cremona Casoli (1870-1949), who, noting the collection stations, provides a picture of the local flora at the beginning of the twentieth century, and that of Carlo Casali ( 1870 ca. – 1930). Recently realized are the herbarium of Giuseppe Branchetti (1923-2009), dedicated to the flora of Reggio Emilia, and the collection of hypogeum mushrooms by Amer Montecchi. The herbals are associated with a valuable collection of models of mushrooms in plaster and wax and a collection of botanical models. and that of Carlo Casali (circa 1870-1930). Recently realized are the herbarium of Giuseppe Branchetti (1923-2009), dedicated to the flora of Reggio Emilia, and the collection of hypogeum mushrooms by Amer Montecchi. The herbals are associated with a valuable collection of models of mushrooms in plaster and wax and a collection of botanical models. and that of Carlo Casali (circa 1870-1930). Recently realized are the herbarium of Giuseppe Branchetti (1923-2009), dedicated to the flora of Reggio Emilia, and the collection of hypogeum mushrooms by Amer Montecchi. The herbals are associated with a valuable collection of models of mushrooms in plaster and wax and a collection of botanical models.

Made up of materials collected during the nineteenth and early twentieth century, the anatomical collections include taxidermic and osteological preparations, artifacts preserved in liquid and didactic models to document three main themes: comparative anatomy, aimed at showing similarities and differences in skeletal and internal organs of different animal species, human anatomy, illustrated with findings and educational models, and teratology, the science that deals with malformations.
Of particular interest are some taxidermic-osteological preparations, which allow to visualize on the same exemplary external morphology and skeleton, a large collection of teratological findings both human and animal, with different examples of ‘Siamese twins’. With regard to human anatomy, the skeleton of ‘giant’ and the human skull is characterized by an abnormal increase in bone tissue. Of great interest among the models is a “peeled” wax head.

Collection of Ethnography
The most ancient nucleus of the Reggian ethnographic collection, in the Collection of Paletnology, was wanted by Gaetano Chierici, when, in the cultural context of the emerging prehistoric studies, an interest for non-European populations emerged based on theories inspired by the evolutionist conception of human history. The collections of ethnographic materials, which continued to arrive in the Museum even after the death of the Clerics (1886), are now placed in a new exhibition arrangement (1999) which proposes the integration of collections from the Museum of Antiquities of Parma to the Reggio collection. , acquired in 1970 by Giancarlo Ambrosetti.

Archaeological collections
The decision to safeguard the historical collections on the raised floor of the Palazzo dei Musei led to the creation of new archaeological collections, to document research in the Reggio Emilia territory after the death of Gaetano Chierici (1886), especially since the 1970s. century. Destined to be rearranged in the coming years, the new archaeological collections are currently divided into Collections of Prehistory and Protohistory and in the hall of Reggio Romana.

Antonio Fontanesi Gallery
Located on the second floor of the Palazzo dei Musei the Gallery allows you to follow the events of art in Reggio Emilia from the fourteenth century to the first half of the twentieth century through the presentation of about one hundred and eighty paintings.
The first exhibition, dated between 1901 and 1904, was instead located on the lower floor, in the rooms of the ancient sacristy of the Convent. Here Naborre Campanini had exhibited the works of art owned by the city (previously held at the School of Fine Arts) and promoted an important campaign of deposits by the main public institutions (the same School of Fine Arts, the Hospital, the Monte di Pietà) on which the patrimonial consistency of the Galleria is still based today. In 1929 the works were transferred by Emilio Spagni to the first floor with subsequent works by Marianna Prampolini Tirelli and Mario Degani. In 1977 Giancarlo Ambrosetti proposed the new system that favors works that are exactly referable to the Reggio area, as produced in Reggio by Reggio artists, or better, because they can be linked to episodes and phenomena of the city’s cultural and productive history. In the eighties, the collection was integrated with a significant acquisition campaign that innovates the heritage significantly. In 1995 the path widened in the eastern wing of the convent and allowed the display of numerous works of the nineteenth century, arriving to document the local pictorial outcomes until the first world war.

Library of the Arts
The Library of the Civic Museums of Reggio Emilia has existed since the time of Gaetano Chierici, founder of the Museo di Storia Patria (1870). It is called the Library of Arts and is, for many decades, a fundamental reference point for archaeologists, art historians and scholars of anthropological and ethnographic disciplines: it is in fact specialized in Archeology and History of Art and can count on a 60,000 volumes and over 600 magazines.

It was born in the historic building of the Palazzo dei Musei, but since 2009 it has moved to the rooms overlooking Piazza della Vittoria, the heart of the city, where the Valli Theater and the Ariosto Theater are located, inside the Parmeggiani building. floors, accessible to the disabled by elevator.